How to propagate spirea bushes by taking cuttings

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How to propagate spirea bushes by taking cuttings

How to propagate spirea bushes by taking cuttings

Spirea bushes are beautiful upright shrubs that grow in a mound and have graceful, overhanging branches where you will find the beautiful clusters of small white flowers that literally take over the entire branch. These large mounted shrubs can reach between 1 and 2 metres at their full maturity.

Very easy to care for they not only bring you stunning flowers for which they are well known but deep, blue green leaves that remain stunning in their aesthetic all throughout the summer long after the flowers have expired.

If you have a spirea bush in your garden and you want more, there are many ways that you can propagate. Propagation shouldn’t scare you. It’s a very easy way to multiply the plants you have without having to go back to the nursery or the garden centre and is a fairly easy and enjoyable process. In fact, once you have a successful spirea bush in your garden, that is going to be the most successful place to get cutting because you already know that it can thrive in your garden.

Propagating spirea bushes

There are three methods you can use to propagate spirea bushes:

  1. Softwood cuttings 
  2. Hardwood cuttings
  3. Ground layering

Tip:

With any of these methods, you need to ensure the cutting you take is one which is sterile. To do this, wipe your gardening scissors or tools clean before each cutting you take. If you are taking multiple cuttings, it is good to keep one time use alcohol wipes on hand so that you can wipe down the blades in between each cut. Otherwise you can clean them with household, full strength cleaners, rubbing alcohol, white vinegar and water, or bleach and water.

Softwood cuttings 

When to take them: 

If you opt for softwood cuttings, you should take them between the middle of summer and the end of summer.

How to propagate: 

  • For this, take each cutting that is about 30cm in length. You want something that is flexible enough to bend generously without snapping. 
  • Trim the top 15cms from the tip of the stem and remove any leaves below that mark. 
  • Take the ends and dip them into rooting hormone to aid with root development. Shake off any excess powder. 
  • Fiil containers with potting mixture, containers that have adequate drainage and mist the mixture to moisten it before you plant. 
  • Place around 4 or 5 cuttings along the inner edge of the pot and then cover it with a plastic top or bag, seal it to create the greenhouse effect, and place it in a location with dappled shade outdoors. 
  • Check on the plants weekly to ensure they are properly watered. 
  • New rooting should take place in about 4 weeks, with new foliage at the same time. 
  • Once they have sprouted, you can repot them into individual containers, leave them in a sheltered spot over winter, and then transplant them directly into the garden or in new containers in spring. 

Hardwood cuttings 

When to take them: 

If you opt for hardwood, you should wait until winter and take cuttings from mature stems. You want to do this when the plant is in dormancy. 

How to propagate: 

  • For this, take each cutting right after the leaf drop in Autumn or right before the buds burst open at the end of winter. 
  • Each cutting should be about 30cm in length. You want several though, to improve your chances of success. 
  • Trim the step top right above a leaf node, and remember to cut an angle so you can recall which end is up. 
  • Trim the bottom of the cuttings straight across, right below the leaf node. 
  • In your garden, dig holes that are about 15cm deep. (Then can also be planted into pots like softwood cutting if you prefer)
  • Place the cuttings in the hole, individually, angled with the end up, and backfill the holes with soil until the cuttings are held firmly in place. 
  • Check on the plants weekly to ensure they are properly watered. 
  • New rooting should take place shortly and come spring, there should be healthy new growth such that you can transplant them elsewhere in your garden or into their permanent home. 

Ground layering

When to take them: 

For this method you want to take the cuttings in the middle of Spring when the plant is full of energy and growth, and is still pliable enough to situate as needed for the technique. 

How to propagate: 

This method is simple, but effective, and allows the stems to remain attached to the main plant while developing new roots. You will need to, again, make sure the stems you choose are long enough and flexible enough to lay on the ground. 

  • For this, pick a shoot that is located on the outside edge of your spirea bush. 
  • Remove the leaves from it and gently scrape off the outer bark in a few key places. 
  • The rooting section should be small, no more and 12cm, so that the roots are concentrated in one place. 
  • Dig a small trench below this shoot, about 2-3cm deep and 6cm long.
  • Bend the shoot over the trench so that the stem lays in it. 
  • Use tent pins or clothes hangers to pin the scaped area in place, maintaining firm contact with the ground. 
  • Cover this section with soil and gently water on a regular basis. 
  • It should take between 6 and 8 weeks for new roots to form at which point you can remove the stem from the main plant and transplant it to its final home. 

Aftercare

Once you have successfully propagated, be sure to care for them in such a way that your new spirea bushes have the best opportunity for growth. 

Firstly, they do best when they are planted in full sun, with only light shade against the heat of the afternoon. If you haven’t yet transplanted them outside, then be sure to place them somewhere without shade. Shade will stunt their growth and severely inhibit the production of flowers, which, let’s face it, is a big part of their appeal. 

They should also only be put in well draining soil. If their roots stay wet, they won’t do as well either and you leave your new spirea bushes susceptible to root rot. 

After they have been transplanted, you won’t have to do much. You can help them grow more effectively by adding a layer of mulch around the plant to retain moisture. During the summer months you can also water a bit more regularly contingent upon the weather in your area to produce better blooms. After those blooms have expired, be sure to prune away the spent sections of your plant.

If you have cultivated a new spirea bush that flower in the spring time, you can prune it immediately after the flowers are gone by removing any dead wood or trimming the canes down to the ground. If you have a summer blooming spirea bush that you have successfully propagated you can prune it in the spring or in the winter.

Be on the lookout for aphids if they do become a problem you can easily treat them by spraying them off the spirea bush with a stream of water, a mixture of water and liquid dish soap, or a pesticide spray.

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